Wednesday, 23 March 2011 15:03 Vong Sokheng and David Boyle
Members of the opposition Sam Rainsy party yesterday accused officials in the Ministry of Labour of deliberately ignoring the alleged illegal detention of trainees by the T&P Co Ltd labour firm and called on the prime minister to take legal action against them.
During a press conference held at the National Assembly yesterday, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said the Ministry of Labour’s failure to regulate the industry had allowed labour recruitment companies to commit serious human rights violations.
“We see that the relevant government ministries and local authorities are conspiring with the company to allow all forms of human rights violations to occur and the industry is also linked to human trafficking and international crimes,” he said.
“These issues have been found in both Cambodia and Malaysia and may be linked to many other labour recruitment agencies.”
Son Chhay said he had previously sent a letter to Hun Sen urging him to order Minister of Labour, Vong South, to take proper action against labour recruitment companies that illegally detained workers, but that no such action had been taken.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Foreign affairs all declined to comment on Son Chhay’s allegations or said they were unaware of the details yesterday.
A 19-year-old woman who said she was a trainee at T&P Co Ltd but refused to be named also appeared at the press conference and recounted conditions of severe abuse she had witnessed and endured while working in Malaysia.
“I got to the work place in Malaysia, where the employers did not give us enough food, and some of the trainees were beaten and raped by the employers, who sometimes poured hot water on their bodies,” she said.
Over a four-year-period that began when she was 16 years old, she said other abuses she had witnessed included force-feeding maids toilet water or chili while making them stand still for entire days at a time.
Aegile Fernandez, anti-human trafficking coordinator of Malaysia-based NGO Tenaganita, said her organisation had rescued 50 Cambodian maids from abusive working conditions since April last year and that the problem had escalated recently.
“[There have been] a lot of Cambodian cases, for the last couple of months; [it’s been] on the rise and there has also been a lot of children being brought in as maids to work,” she said.